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Working Hard for You in 2016

Posted By Matthew H. Poppe, Thursday, January 14, 2016


by Matt Poppe

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

2016 SCCBA President


I’m honored to be serving as President of the Santa Clara County Bar Association in 2016 and am looking forward to a busy year.

This year we will pursue several initiatives that we hope will provide new value to our members and strengthen the legal profession in our County.  Following are some of the highlights.  We will also, of course, continue the many benefits and services the SCCBA has traditionally offered.


Incubator Project for Virtual Law Practices

Many new lawyers in our County face the daunting task of hanging out a shingle and starting up a law practice from scratch.  To help these brave souls with the business side of that challenge, the SCCBA  is developing an incubator for solo practitioners.  Further, in recognition of the ever-increasing pervasiveness of technology in all aspects of the practice of law, our incubator will be the first to help participants set up a virtual law practice with a substantial online component.  The effort will be led by 2015 SCCBA President John Mlnarik, who was instrumental in the initial planning stages last year.


Training for Judges on Code of Professionalism

Under the leadership of 2014 SCCBA President Dianne Sweeney, and with the strong support of the local Superior Court bench, the SCCBA sponsored a Bench-Bar Professionalism Summit in late 2014 to discuss ways to further the cause of professionalism in our County.  One idea that emerged was for the SCCBA to offer training for new Superior Court judges on the SCCBA’s Code of Professionalism, which was first adopted in 1992 and is currently being updated.  The Code, with its emphasis on civility, has been highly influential both locally and beyond.  Preparations for the training program are being undertaken by the Professionalism Committee under the leadership of its Chair, Alison Buchanan.


Revamped Judicial Election Procedures

2016 is an election year, not only for federal and state offices but also for some Superior Court judges in our County.  Should any of the local judicial races be contested, the SCCBA will seek to foster a campaign atmosphere that befits an election for judicial office.  Candidates who pledge to abide by the SCCBA Judicial Election Campaign Code of Ethics will be eligible for endorsement by the SCCBA.  Compliance will be policed by the Santa Clara County Fair Judicial Election Practices Commission, which is co-chaired by the SCCBA President and the Presiding Judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court and is governed by a detailed set of Rules and Procedures.  This year, before any campaigns get underway, we will take a fresh look at our rules for conducting plebiscites (the process we use to determine which candidate to endorse) to ensure that they are clear and even-handed and promote a fair, civil, and dignified electoral process.


SCCBA Strategic Plan

This is a challenging time for professional organizations like the SCCBA, which have to change with the times in order to satisfy their mandates and meet their members’ needs.  Mindful of this reality, the SCCBA has been working on a new strategic plan:  a three-year process of which we are entering the final year.  Having refined our understanding of the market we seek to serve, we completed a thorough vetting of the services we offer and are now going to examine how we are governed from top to bottom.  The result will hopefully be a Bar Association that is even more efficient, energetic, and representative than it is today.


Planning for SCCBA Centennial Celebration

Next year will be the SCCBA’s centennial, so we have a big celebration to plan.


President’s Theme for 2016:  Outreach and Collaboration

The SCCBA traditionally gives its President the privilege of choosing a project or theme to pursue during his or her year in that position.  The theme I have selected is “outreach and collaboration.”  The SCCBA is just one of many organizations serving our legal community, and I believe the interests of our members and the public will be served if we strengthen our existing ties with other local and neighboring bar associations, law schools, civic leaders, and the like.  Accordingly, I will personally engage in outreach efforts and encourage others in the SCCBA leadership to do so as well, in the hope and expectation that we will find common ground and opportunities to collaborate with others.


This list is hardly exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of our intended focus for 2016.  I am grateful to be serving with an outstanding leadership team that includes CEO Chris Burdick; fellow officers Nicole Isger (President-Elect), Kate Wilson (Treasurer), and Kevin Hammon (Secretary); our 2016 Board of Trustees and Executive Committee; the volunteers who will chair our sections and committees; and our dedicated and highly professional staff.

If you have any comments on our plans for 2016, or any other suggestions on how to improve what we do, I would love to hear from you at or (650) 614-7431.

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